USC Football: What UCLA Means for Notre Dame

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Apr 2, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Max Wittek (13) at spring practice at Howard Jones Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Against UCLA: Matt Barkley suffered a brutal blindside hit that resulted in a shoulder sprain which will keep him out this coming week.

What that means for Notre Dame: The Max Wittek era is starting a bit earlier than expected.

At the beginning of the season, losing Barkley for any amount of time would have been seen as a catastrophe. Now it appears to be an opportunity. After his less-than-stellar display against the Bruins, Barkley has thrown more interceptions as a senior than he did as a freshman. And while there is plenty of blame to go around, Barkley’s nine interceptions in the last four games have put his team at a severe disadvantage.

That’s not to say that Wittek is the quarterback you want starting against the Irish, but his inclusion is not the end of the world. Highly touted coming out of high school, Wittek has all the makings of a capable quarterback and since USC’s senior quarterback was turning over the ball at will anyways, his potential freshman mistakes won’t stand out too much.

However, Notre Dame’s defense, which ranks first in scoring defense, 11th in pass efficiency defense, and 13th in sacks, have got to be licking their chops at the thought of facing a young signal caller in the first start of his career.

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Tags: Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish UCLA Bruins USC Trojans